When trying to learn about sustainability, it’s important to look at your habits and see where in your personal daily routine you could make the greatest impact. What’s a small change you can do every day that results in a big impact?
My journey has been full of ups and downs, but one thing’s for sure: I’ve stayed curious and made some clever swaps in my routines in order to live a planet-friendly lifestyle. Here are some of the best products to kickstart your zero-waste journey.
10 Products to Kickstart Your Zero-Waste Journey
1. Reusable or Biodegradable Straws
Okay, I know this seems obvious, but plastic water straws are not necessary. Many companies now sell reusable or biodegradable straws and reusable water bottles, and it’s actually trendy to feature them on Insta.
For a disposable eco-friendly option, check out EQUO: They make straws out of grass, rice, coconut, sugarcane, and more. Plus, they’re biodegradable. If you’re going for a more permanent option, seek out metal or durable plastic options. (And don’t forget to clean them regularly!)
2. Zero Waste Toothpaste
Transitioning to a zero-waste toothpaste is one of the easiest lifestyle items to change. Some great choices are Georganics, Bite, Unpaste, and many more. They come in reusable glass or compostable containers, reducing the waste that comes from toothpaste tubes. Since many toothpaste tubes can’t be recycled, shopping these brands is a way to avoid that accidental wish-cycle.
3. Reusable Facial Rounds
I used to pour money into makeup wipes. I’d even stockpile them because I never wanted to run out. Then I learned (from TikTok, by the way!) about a reusable option that’s better for your skin and the environment, and I’m never going back.
4. Reusable Food Storage
I have a confession: My eyes are almost always bigger than my stomach. I always end up with leftovers! It’s tempting to reach for a Ziploc bag, but all that plastic adds up. Investing in reusable food storage bags and beeswax wraps makes a serious difference in your plastic consumption. Some of my favorite brands are Stasher, Lilybee, Bee Good, and Public Goods.
You can also just rely on old Tupperware and mason jars, or even go DIY and make your own beeswax paper out of beeswax pellets, cotton fabric, and parchment paper.
5. Zero-Waste Bars and Razors
I know everyone has their favorite toiletries, but the next time you’re in the mood to try something new, switch out your favorites for a zero-waste alternative. Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and shaving cream bars are all great zero-waste substitutes that are so concentrated they last way longer than your bottled products.
There are bar options for all hair types, so finding the right one was a bit of a process for my wavy hair. But I eventually found my fit. Some zero-waste options I’d recommend include Lush shampoo bars, Public Goods natural shampoo that utilizes reusable bottles, The Earthling Co shampoo bars, Ethique shampoo bars, and more.
6. Dryer Balls
I recently made the switch to dryer balls, and one of the most pleasant surprises was that three dryer balls cost the same amount as one package of dryer sheets. Most dryer balls last 1,000+ dry cycles, and each dryer sheet lasts one dry cycle.
During my sustainability journey, I’ve noticed a pattern: sustainable can often be cheaper. Reusable items end up saving me a lot of money in the long run!
7. Swedish Dishcloths
One of my favorite zero-waste finds is the Swedish Dishcloth. Once you get one wet, it functions exactly like a wet paper towel. I have a set I use specifically for furniture and a different set for the bathroom. I love that they dry so flat and perfectly.
8. Bar Soap
Let’s talk bar soap. I was an avid foam soap user, but at long last, I’m a convert to bars. This was probably one of the most necessary changes I made that I highly recommend others take as well. Bar soap lasts longer than its foam counterpart and requires minimal packaging.
I have used this change as an opportunity to support local businesses. Every time my soap bar gets smaller, I look for a local business to support. Now, shopping for soap fulfills many needs, including my need to shop, my desire to be zero-waste, and my desire to shop local.
Or, if you don’t have time to explore fairs, this Public Goods bar soap is made with all-natural ingredients and is only $3!
9. Reusable Bags
A great way to start your zero-waste journey is to seriously invest in some reusable grocery bags. Most grocery stores have started to sell them, so you can just pick them up on your next meal-prep run!
Buy some that you like, then never give them up. If you don’t know what you want exactly, try to use some reusable bags that have been hanging around the house. You can even bring your old plastic bags to try to get as much use out of them as you can.
10. Use What You Have (or DIY)
Lastly, the best zero-waste swap I’ve found is to use what you have. Turn old T-shirts into reusable dishcloths instead of throwing them away. Try to DIY as much as you can. Use refill bars when possible to not have to use extra packaging, regrow, or repurpose any food scraps you have, and buy secondhand as often as possible.
To get started on your sustainability journey, you don’t actually need to buy anything. You can repurpose or make most of the items I mentioned earlier. In fact, using what you have is always best for the environment.
When what you have runs out and you want to treat yourself to a new eco-friendly product, splurge away. Make sure to do your research first, though, as items are often mislabeled or greenwashed. One rule of thumb I have: If it’s wrapped in plastic, it’s probably a bad idea.
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